This is not a book for the faint of heart. It took every ounce of strength to not cry over the stories of the two moms in the story, the American momThis is not a book for the faint of heart. It took every ounce of strength to not cry over the stories of the two moms in the story, the American mom desperately wanting a baby and her bouts with infertility and the Indian mom yearning to give her daughter a good life and missing her every day. I can relate to them both and their agonizing decisions and journey through motherhood. Their trials, tribulations and joys are so perfectly detailed by the author. I was enthralled with this book from the first page...in fact, I am already giving it a 5 star and have gotten about half way through...let's hope the second half is as good as the first.
Being an Indian-American, I love hearing her descriptions of the glorious food and life in India. The author knows how to pull at my heartstrings with this one, missing my grandparents so. I look forward to reading the rest of this book and hopefully other works by this talented author.
What can I say about Hunger Games that hasn't already been said? Well, probably not much. I can tell you that the first time that I tried to read it,What can I say about Hunger Games that hasn't already been said? Well, probably not much. I can tell you that the first time that I tried to read it, I was appalled at the thought of reading about kids killing each other. I didn't see how it could be enjoyable when in this day and age, I cry every time the news shows a story about a child being killed or something like Newton that shakes me to my core. It's a parent's biggest fear to lose their child and I couldn't believe these killings were a "game."
I gave into the hype and the pressure of my oldest son who said I had to give the book another try. If it's one thing I try to teach my kids, it's that they should try food, activities and the like twice before deciding. I guess that one came back to bite me as my son said I had to try and read it a second time before judging the book.
I admit, I'm glad I read it and it is one of my favorite reads of 2013. If you don't already know, the book is about kids aged 12 to 18 that are forced into the Hunger Games once a year. They fight one another to the death until there is only one left standing. TV cameras are hidden throughout the arena so that each kill can be televised and fans can cheer on the person from their District. Katniss (a 16 year old girl) and Peeta (an 18 year old boy) are the participants from District 12, the poorest of the Districts.
Before the Games, Katniss has to fight for survival in her home district to hunt down food for herself, her mother and her sister. During the Games, she still struggles to survive against richer District athletes who are trained for these events. Peeta confesses during the Game that he's had a crush on Katniss since he met her. Is it the truth or is he just playing the Game to get more fans and a better chance at a sponsor who sends them gifts to help them win? Katniss doesn't know who to trust since she knows there can only be one victor who returns home to his or her family.
The story is very emotional, the bond between Katniss and her younger sister Prim who she saves from the Games is endearing and heart-breaking. The friendship that develops between Katniss and Peeta blurs the lines of love. They make a convincing couple on the TV screen for the fans but what are their true feelings?
It's a book filled with suspense and surprises. I can't wait to read the next installment. Hunger Games reminded me very much of Divergent which is the first YA book that I read and loved. I'm Team Peeta, I always fall for the nice guy, how about you?
My favorite Christmas kids book by far. The vibrant pictures and hilarious story bring laughs to all who read it. We received it as a gift and it's onMy favorite Christmas kids book by far. The vibrant pictures and hilarious story bring laughs to all who read it. We received it as a gift and it's one of my favorite gifts to give as well. I guess I will have to buy 3 more copies to save for my kids when they fly the nest, cause they can't have mine! :)...more
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan is a wonderful story about the friendship between two women, laotongs, who endure a lifetime of trials and tribulationsSnow Flower and the Secret Fan is a wonderful story about the friendship between two women, laotongs, who endure a lifetime of trials and tribulations enduring the pressures of their culture and traditions during the 1800′s. I read this book as part of the Around the World in 80 Books Challenge and the Monthly Keyword Challenge for January.
Lily and Snow Flower are two young girls when they first meet and make a deep, contracted commitment to be forever friends, or laotongs. While most women belong to a group of “sworn sisters” whose friendships dissolve when they marry, laotangs commit to love one another until they die. Ms. See masterfully describes the love between these two friends that are tested under the most trying of circumstances and when appearances are not always as they seem.
This book cover so many themes as it travels through these girls’ lives. Living up to the steep expectations of their family during a time when women are considered inferior to the men of the family. Women are seen as weak and a burden to their natal family. ”[Lily's mother] looked at me the way all mothers look at their daughters – as a temporary visitor.” Once married, they are expected to cater to their husbands and in-laws needs. Lily and Snow Flower send messages in ladies’ secret writing, called nu shu, on their secret fan.
Lily and Snow Flower’s paths diverge once they marry and have their own families. They go to the top and bottom of their class in the county. While it is “beneath Lily” to visit Snow Flower, they must find ways to continue their friendship. Their friendship must endure the test of time, births, deaths, illnesses, war, and cultural expectations.
Setting & Culture
The book is set in the villages of China in the 1800′s. Lily grows up in Puwei which is described as a farming village in Yongming County, “the county of Everlasting Brightness”. They cultivate rice, cotton, taro and other crops. Around 6 years old, girls of the village endure the painful process of footbinding, where their feet are broken so they have small feet (“golden lillies”), the smaller and the more desirable to prospective husbands.
The story details the matchmaking process and the weddings that last for several days and are steeped in beautiful and simple traditions to show the young bride how she is loved by her friends and natal family before going to live with her in-laws. The story progresses through Tongkou, Shexia, the Temple of Gupo and the mountains nearby for retreat, and effectively portrays the stark contrasts between the lifestyles of people in each.
To have a good life, women want to have a good match for a husband who is not of her own choosing and have sons. “Sons are the foundation of a woman’s self. They give a woman her identity, as well as dignity, protection, and economic value.” Sons and fathers are esteemed, educated and allowed to live on the main floor or outer chamber of the house while daughters are raised in the top floor or inner chamber where they can’t be seen and taught to do housekeeping and embroidery so they can be good wives. Men even have a different written language than women. They live separate lives and come together only when women are needed to serve their husbands.
I learned so much from this book about early Chinese culture and lifestyle. I was entranced by the different time and world and it made me appreciative of how women are treated today in comparison.
“For my entire life I longed for love. I knew it was not right for me – as a girl and later as a woman – to want or expect it, but I did, and this unjustified desire has been at the root of every problem I have experienced in my life.”
“All I knew was that footbinding would make me more manageable and therefore bring me closer to the greatest love and greatest joy in a woman’s life –a son.”
“You may be desperate, but never let anyone see you as anything less than a cultivated woman.”
“‘A museum is a temple of knowledge,” my father told me, “a lit lamp that sends its rays into the darkness, the proof of the infinite variety of life.”
This is an amazing book and I love that we see Chinese culture throughout each phase of Lily’s entire life. It’s an emotional journey worth the trip. This would make a great book club book, so many issues and themes to discuss. ...more
What an exceptional story that really makes you think about priorities in life. In case I am not the last person on the planet to read this book, it'sWhat an exceptional story that really makes you think about priorities in life. In case I am not the last person on the planet to read this book, it's a story about well...Tuesdays with Morrie. Morrie is a professor of sociology and learns he has a cruel terminal illness. The author, Mitch, was one of Morrie's favorite students. When Morrie learns about his fate, he asks Mitch to write his "final thesis." Mitch travels out of state to visit Morrie on Tuesdays and picks the important life questions to discuss with his amazingly simple and profound professor. What culminates are chapters on life, love, marriage, death and the finer, more important things in life.
I am a fan of the library, I don't have a lot of space to store books but this will be one I buy anyway. There are so many wonderful lessons and memorable quotes, I think it'd be a great addition to our book collection. One I can share with family, friends and highly recommend to others. One I will reread when I need to de-stress from the juggling act of a full-time job, dealing with a chronic illness (not terminal, thank heavens), and motherhood. One that will stick with me when I need to gain perspective. ...more
This is the 3rd Diane Chamberlain book I have read and my favorite so far (and I loved the others too). Diane is a master of suspense and leaving me aThis is the 3rd Diane Chamberlain book I have read and my favorite so far (and I loved the others too). Diane is a master of suspense and leaving me at the edge of my seat at the end of each chapter. Although I don't usually skip ahead or read the end first, I absolutely did have to skip to the "confession" when the chapter suddenly ended and then back track. There were many moments when I had to reread it, where I thought to myself, no way... did I really read that right?
This story is about a midwife with some pretty terrible secrets that's she's keeping from her best friends. Only after her suicide do they learn about her past and what drove her to take her life.
Diane develops the characters so well and it makes me feel like I am right there experiencing their joys and sorrows with them. As another reviewer had said, you get so enthralled with the characters and the story that you miss them when you are done reading it. That is what is plaguing me now. The excitement of reading this book (in 2 days, a new speed record for me) and then the sense of loss when it's done. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and although I usually read just before bed, I found myself trying to steal moments during the day to read. Reading was supposed to be my tool to help me get to sleep, but not Diane's books...I keep wanting to stay up late to finish it cause I can't put it down! If I didn't have to wake up with kids at the crack of dawn (ok, 6:30 am but that's plenty early), I would have finished it all in one night. This book really had me hooked.
Wow, all I can say is wow. This book had everything, devoted friends, joys and stresses of motherhood, death, childhood illness, longing, betrayal, secrets, oh so many secrets....and the strength of some incredible women. Good thing Diane has plenty of books I have not yet read, she is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. ...more
What would you wish for if you learned you had 6 months to live? For Armaiti, one of the strong female leads in Thrity Umrigar's latest book, The WorlWhat would you wish for if you learned you had 6 months to live? For Armaiti, one of the strong female leads in Thrity Umrigar's latest book, The World We Found, it's the chance to see her 3 best friends from college in India. Although she's lost touch with these women in the past 30 years and moved to America, their undeniable bond beckons the friends to reunite.
As her friends struggle with making the last minute journey out of India, they learn of their own strengths and reaffirm their beliefs. The chapters are written in each of the 4 friends' voices and it gives the reader insight into each friend's motivation to be at Armaiti's side as her cancer worsens. Laleh has it all, a successful husband and family, but her guilt for past events drive her decisions and her desperation to get to Armaiti before it's too late. Kavita has a deep secret and forbidden passion she's kept hidden for all these years, she's wishing to share with her friends who know and love her best. Nishta marries a man who changes her spiritually and traps her in a lifestyle she never wanted. Besides her losing battle with cancer, Armaiti struggles with maintaining her peace and dignity while her doting ex-husband and daughter cannot understand why she refuses to fight the chemo with modern medicine. As expected, she contemplates the important questions as she deals with her impending death and reflects on the important friendship she misses so dearly.
This was a very moving story. I thought the focus would be on the dying Armaiti's final wishes and days but the important part of the story is really how these 4 friends reflect back on their time together and the important issues they have to resolve before they reunite. It may have taken 30 years for them to reunite, but really they did their "growing up" once they got the call from their friend that she was dying.
This book is full of wonderful imagery and sentiment. It's one of my favorites and I look forward to reading more from Ms. Umrigar....more
In dystopian Chicago, lives Beatrice and her family in the Abnegation faction. The city is divided into five factions each valuing a different virtue.In dystopian Chicago, lives Beatrice and her family in the Abnegation faction. The city is divided into five factions each valuing a different virtue. The Abnegation value selflessness, helping others before yourself. The Erudite value intelligence, the Candor honesty, the Amity peace and the Dauntless bravery. At 16 years old, children can choose to stay with the faction they grew up in or leave and attempt initiation into a new faction. They compete with the others who transfer in and those born into that faction to gain one of the coveted initiate spots. If they fail, they become "factionless" and homeless for the rest of their lives.
At Beatrice's assessment before she makes her fateful choice, the test reveals she is Divergent, she does not understand the full scope of what this means. However, the administrator informs her it is extremely dangerous to be Divergent and Beatrice must never reveal that she is Divergent or she will be killed.
Beatrice makes her faction choice, much to the surprise of those who know and meet her. She isn't the typical faction member and she stands out just from her meek appearance. The initiation competition is fierce to say the least. Beatrice, who changes her name to Tris, is pushed to her limits physically, emotionally and mentally.
What faction will Beatrcie choose? Will she leave the family she adores? What does being Divergent mean and why does that pose the threat of death if the wrong people find out? How can she hide being Divergent when she doesn't even know what makes her so? Will she survive invitation or will she end up factionless?
This is the first YA novel I have finished and I was so hooked by the action, the interesting challenges that Tris faces and the little bit of romance. The author skillfully creates a dystopian society and what could happen when even the seemingly virtuous take their virtue to an extreme and inflict their judgments on others of different factions. I highly recommend Divergent, I got lost in another world, where I was challenged to think what I virtue I value most and how I would face the challenges if in the same situation. I can't wait to read the next one! ...more
This was my first Diane Chamberlain book and I must say one of my favorite books so far. She captivated my attention from the first page and I never sThis was my first Diane Chamberlain book and I must say one of my favorite books so far. She captivated my attention from the first page and I never suspected the events that would unfold. Although the library classified this as a romance book, there are definitely elements of mystery, suspense and thrills. Definitely a page turner and I couldn't put it down, read the whole thing in 3 sittings...a miraculous rate for me!
The story is about two sisters who endure witnessing the tragic murder of their parents as teenagers. As a result of this tragedy, their lives take markedly different paths although their bond is unbreakable. When Maya disappears, her sister turns to Maya's husband for comfort.
Pick this book up, you won't be able to put it down!...more
I am not a fast reader but I go through Diane's books in record time. I typically finish her books in the wee hours of the night and in two sittings.I am not a fast reader but I go through Diane's books in record time. I typically finish her books in the wee hours of the night and in two sittings. This book was no exception, I simply could not put it down.
The story chronicles the life of CeeCee. When we meet her, CeeCee is an orphaned and insecure teenager trying to make it on her own. She gets mixed up with the wrong guy and the story is filled with kidnapping, death, birth, crime, mystery and a complex web of love and lies emerges the way only Diane can tell it.
I can relate to CeeCee in so many ways, her undying love for her family, her desire to overly protect her children and how her rheumatoid arthritis impacts her body, how she tries to hide the pain and stay strong for her loved ones even when the disease flares due to stress. The story is also set in North Carolina, my home state, and I can just picture the story unfold in a setting that's familiar to me.
What does CeeCee get herself into? How will she ever get out of it? Will her family forgive her for her past? I wish I could tell you but I don't want to spoil the journey, I do highly recommend this captivating book. If you like suspenseful reads or books by Nicholas Sparks or Jodi Picoult, you'll like this book. I think it would make an interesting discussion for a book club, just check out the first question on LitLover's list of book club questions.
Nicholas Sparks and Diane Chamberlain are both NC authors and I have been enjoying reading stories by NC authors or set in NC. Diane Chamberlain is often noted as being similar in style to Jodi Picoult. While both Diane and Jodi have a way of capturing my attention, Diane's skill rests in her ability to emotionally connect me to her characters. I form a bond with them, I agonize with them as they face their most complicated predicaments. When the book is done, I miss them and wonder what happens next. That's what makes Diane Chamberlain one of my favorite authors, each book leaves a lasting impression with relatable characters in unforgettable situations. ...more
In The Good Father, Diane Chamberlain poignantly describes the desperation of Travis Brown, a young, single father who is out of work and trying to suIn The Good Father, Diane Chamberlain poignantly describes the desperation of Travis Brown, a young, single father who is out of work and trying to support his sweet 4 year old daughter, bella, after they lose everything in a fire. Travis is driven to extreme circumstances that force him to make some bad choices and get involved with some despicable people just to make enough money to feed his daughter and provide some basic necessities. He leaves Bella in the care of Erin, a mother who is grieving the death of her own 4-year old daughter. Their lives are intertwined unexpectedly and what develops helps them all in ways they don't expect. As a parent, I can empathize with Travis's predicament and Erin's grief.
Will Travis be able to get himself out of this mess he got himself into? Will Travis and Bella be reunited or will she be taken away because her good father made a bad choice? Will Erin's grief consume her and destroy her marriage? Will Bella ever know the mother whom she has never met? Again, Diane develops the characters in such a way that you fall deeply for them and care for them. So many great twists in this book that makes it an enjoyable and fast read. A book full of suspense and not your typical romance or chick-lit but just as easy and fun to read. Another one of my favorites from Diane Chamberlain, right along with The Midwife's Confession and The Secret of CeeCee Wilkes. ...more
Death narrates a remarkable story about Liesel, a young girl whose brother passes away on their way to live with foster parents. At his burial, one ofDeath narrates a remarkable story about Liesel, a young girl whose brother passes away on their way to live with foster parents. At his burial, one of the grave diggers drops a book and Liesel steals her first book. Liesel is unable to read very well. Her foster father is a loving and doting father and teaches her to read. As her ability to read improves, so does the love for her foster father and the books that bind them together.
Death, the narrator, is one of my favorite characters and gives us an interesting perspective. Initially, as Death begins the story of taking Liesel's brother's soul, I have the mental image of the stereotypical Grim Reaper and honestly, turned on the light because I was freaked out about Death "stealing" souls of the deceased. Death toys with the reader into what he (or she) really looks like. We have this preconceived notion that Death is scary, but then If you believe in an afterlife, should it be scary or welcoming, inviting and beautiful?
Death is surprisngly compassionate and eloquent in describing a dying person's aura, as demonstrated in another favorite quote in this book, " A SMALL THEORY. People observe the colors of a day only at its beginning and ends, but to me it's quite clear that a day merges through a multitude of shades and intonations, with each passing moment. A single hour can consist of thousands of different colors. Waxy yellows, cloud-spat blues. Murky darknesses. In my line of work, I make it a point to notice them.". Death was a fascinating narrator and really brought up thought-provoking ideas on why people die.
The book is set during World War II and details the atrocities against Jewish people and the fear of Germans to comply with the Nazi party., I was amazed by the strength of the characters, and their love and survival with the simplest that life in a rationed war-torn town could offer them. The Book Thief is a wonderful, hauntingly beautiful and poignant book and well worth a read, again and again. ...more
Before the Storm tells the story of Andy Lockwood, a teen locked in a battle with autistic behavior caused by fetal alcohol syndrome. He is judged andBefore the Storm tells the story of Andy Lockwood, a teen locked in a battle with autistic behavior caused by fetal alcohol syndrome. He is judged and misunderstood by his peers. One night at a church lock-in, Andy becomes an unlikely hero that saves many lives when the church catches fire. In a twisted turn of events, the hero becomes the accuser and Andy's mother and sister rally around him to prove his innocence. But could Andy have done it and not understood what he was doing?
Diane Chamberlain has a talent for creating complex characters who endure the toughest of situations. While the reader falls in love with the Lockwood family and emphathizes with their predicament, I agonized along with his mother who wondered in the back of her mind... did Andy really do it?
I heard Diane Chamberlain's work being compared to that of Jodi Picoult. I found Picoult's book The House Rules to be very similar in plot to Before the Storm. While Picoult had me wondering about the main character's innocence to the very last page, I did not feel for him the way I felt for The Lockwood Family. While Picoult's work was very thorough and technical in her descriptions of the main character's life with Aspergers Syndrome, he was still a character on a page in a book. The family dynamics didn't move me. I didn't relate to the mother like I did to Chamberlain's "heroine". I skimmed parts to get through Picoult's book whereas I hung on each word written by Chamberlain.
Ms. Chamberlain weaves a tale like only she can. A story about the impact of fetal alcohol syndrome, love lost, empathy and the strength of the human spirit. Before the Storm has a sequel that I look forward to reading....more
Gone Girl is the story of Nick and Amy, a seemingly yuppie couple living in Manhattan who lose their jobs and move to the Missouri suburbs to care orGone Girl is the story of Nick and Amy, a seemingly yuppie couple living in Manhattan who lose their jobs and move to the Missouri suburbs to care or Nick's ailing parents. While they seem to complement each other initially (like Amy's type A personality NYC wealthy upbringing to Nick's more laid-back, popular guy, easy going mentality), their differences and struggling finances fuel their resentment to one another. Even their anniversaries are stressful as Amy sets up treasure hunts pointing Nick to locations of special memories for her but most of the time Nick can't even figure out the clues.
By their fifth anniversary, both of them are miserable and the love is gone. Amy vanishes after leaving the treausre hunt clues for their anniversary and making Nick breakfast. The house looks like a struggle took place, her blood was found and cleaned up in the kitchen and the living room is in disarray with furniture thrown about. What transpires is a media circus surrounding Nick who doesn't seem upset enough that his wife disappeared until he really becomes the prime suspect for her murder. Does he really want the woman found who makes him feel like a failure? Without her, it looks like he murdered her even though her body hasn't turned up.
This is the first book I have read by Ms. Flynn and it certainly warrants the rave reviews it's received so far. She gives a different view of marriage and what drives people to make the choices they do. What is a perfect marriage anyway, is there such a thing? Ms. Flynn also explores the parent-child relationship. Amy's parents have profited from her childhood and turned her into "amazing Amy" a line of best selling books. Amy, an only child, feels pressured to be amazing in everything she does, but that level of perfection and achieving parents high expectations gets tiresome. How does she deal with thse expectations? I never guessed what would transpire in this story, it was full of so many twists and turns and it's hard to write much without spoilers.
This was a suspenseful and quick read. The story and characters enthralledmans captivated me, I never knew what would happen next. I look forward to reading other stories by Ms. Flynn. Her style is much like Diane Chamberlain who is my favorite author. Very complex characters, testing the preconceived notions of right and wrong in a very twisted, suspenseful story.
To Kill a Mockingbird is a capitvating story set during the 1960's in rural Alabama and follows a white single father and attorney, Atticus Finch, andTo Kill a Mockingbird is a capitvating story set during the 1960's in rural Alabama and follows a white single father and attorney, Atticus Finch, and his two children, daughter Scout and son Jim, through their childhood. Scout is a very inquisitive, tomboyish and adventurous young girl and relies on her older brother and father to keep her out of trouble. She and Jim have a goal to get their reclusive neighbor Boo Radley to emerge from his house in mischevious ways. Jim is a protective older brother and Atticus is a patient, level-headed attorney who takes a controversial case defending a black man accused of raping a young white woman. A black woman, Calpernia, serves the Finch family as a cook, housekeeper and caretaker. Although she is black during a time when blacks in the South are seen as beneath the whites, the Finch family cares for and respects her for her role in the household.
As the trial progresses and Scout hears of the white townfolk's opinion of the blacks, I am moved by her sweet innocence as she does not understand why Calpernia should be treated any differently, why she can't go to Calpernia's church without causing a scene and why a black man is accused of something he insists he didn't do. Ms. Lee accounts what daily discriminations blacks encountered and it's heartbreaking to know that just a short 50 years ago, people were treated in this way. Scout witnesses the bullying of blacks and continually and boldly questions the actions of the white townsfolk around her, breaking the conventional rules of how a young Southern white girl should dress and behave.
This book was an emotional journey through the 60's in the Deep South. I thoroughly enjoyed the audiobook version that I listened to which was narrated by Academy-Award winning actress, Sissy Spacek. Her voice portrayal of all of the characters was believeable and endearing, which I think is hard for many audiobook narrators to achieve. I think listening to it actually enhanced my enjoyment of the book and brought Scout's voice to life.